Shipping and aviation set to reverse half of Europe’s transport carbon savings

Almost half of the carbon savings made by Europe's land-based transport by 2030 will be effectively cancelled out by continued emissions growth in the shipping and aviation sectors, according to new research commissioned by green group Transport & Environment (T&E).

The T&E report analyses the demand for liquid fossil fuels in European Union (EU) transport over the year 2010 to 2030, based on figures published by the European Commission (EC).

Consultant CE Delft’s research estimates that land transport in Europe will consume 42mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) less fuel in 2030 than it did in 2010, while ships and planes will consume 19Mtoe more energy in 2030 than 20 years previously. This aviation and shipping growth would undo around 43% of the savings expected in the rest of the European transport sector, the report finds.

T&E aviation and shipping director Bill Hemmings said: “Planes and ships are free riding at the expense of land transport’s already insufficient efforts to cut emissions. This is not only unfair but a roadblock to Europe meeting its own climate commitments. Governments need to think again and include shipping in the emissions trading system and strengthen its aviation provisions.”

The world’s aviation and maritime sectors are currently responsible for around 5% of global emissions. However, that figure is growing rapidly and total emissions between the two sectors could rise by as much as 250% by 2050. Aircraft CO2 alone is projected to quadruple and will potentially account for 22% of all CO2 emitted globally in 2050.

Crucially, both the shipping and aviation industries were notable exclusions in the final draft of the Paris climate agreement.

Aviation recently agreed a weak emissions-reduction scheme in Montreal, which will see airlines in participating countries offset but not reduce CO2 emissions from aircraft, and on a voluntary basis. At the time, T&E claimed that the deal will fall “well short” of the carbon neutral growth target for 2020, and that the deal presents a risk to environmental effectiveness due to a lack of rules in regards to the offsetting system.

All at sea

Shipping’s emissions levels, which currently stand at around round 1,000mtCO2e a year – compared with about 781mtCO2e a year from aviation – are forecast to make up nearly 17% of the world’s total over the next 30 years if left unregulated.

Next week, the European Parliament will consider a proposal to fix this by creating a Maritime Climate Fund and including ship emissions in the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS). In January, the European Commission will make a proposal on aviation’s future in the ETS. According to T&E, shipping CO2 emissions can be reduced cumulatively by 80 million tonnes by 2030 if the sector is included in the ETS.

In October, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) approved a roadmap through to 2023 on the global adoption on an emissions reduction strategy, scheduled to come into force in 2018; although the Organisation has been criticised over delaying action. Just one day earlier, 170 countries agreed on a new global deal to introduce a cap on sulphur emissions in 2020.

The IMO and country representatives agreed on a deal to place a 0.5% cap on sulphur emissions from ships – to be introduced in 2020 – five years ahead of a predicted timeframe. The organisation had previously shelved plans to place an emissions cap on the world’s shipping fleet last year.

George Ogleby

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